Call centers’ early users included marketing and promotion, as well as the provision of technical assistance. There exist two primary operating modes for these functions.
As for the first, it is to field calls from current customers wishing to place more orders or discuss products, and from new customers directed to the call center number by advertising and promotional materials. Here Internet is increasingly involved.
As for the second operating mode for a call center is the outgoing cold call. Here, a possible customer is identified by region, income, or other factor, and is called at home with an offer the organization's product, a solicitation of a donation, etc. A carefully prepared script is provided for the call center staff to use in their contacts. This function is very popular a call center for charities and long-distance phone companies. They are also used to carry out surveys.
As for education, the primary use of call center technology in marketing and promotion is to field incoming calls from students who have learned of the educational institution through advertising, word-of-mouth referral, Internet search, or other means. There are many institutions accept volumes of queries, from prospective students and their parents, in which they provide information about their programs, both educational and extracurricular. Very often, large numbers of attendants are only needed during peak recruiting seasons.
If talking about distance education, where students are not on campus, there is additional pressure to fill the information needs of current students on a day-to-day basis, by answering questions about course availability, helping a student get information about their performance, and so on. The student advising function, in which an advisor works with a prospective or current student to work through program planning issues, is also an ideal candidate for application of the technologies and organizational format found in call centers. Still, the question of cold calling to solicit customers or students is more questionable, but should perhaps not be dismissed out of hand. Such calls’ structure and the criteria for initiation would require careful consideration. But it is interesting to note that Evanson et al. (1998) found that employee turnover in call centers was lower when large calling campaigns were outsourced.